A day in the life of: Adele Norman BCBA

Previously I wrote my own ‘A day in the life of’ to give people an insight into what a typical day looks like for me. There are many roles within the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis, so I hope that this series will give people an idea of what jobs are available and what a typical day may look like if you decided to choose this as a career.

This time round I am excited to welcome Adele Norman BCBA who has kindly given us a snapshot into 2 days in her life. Adele is a fantastic Behaviour Analyst who is working in a variety of roles to support families and other Behavioural Analysts in the UK. So it is with great pleasure I introduce Adele Norman.

Hello, I’m Adele Norman, a BCBA based in the North of England. I work in Positive Behaviour Support for both children and adult services and consult privately on early intervention and ABA programs. I also supervisee those working toward their accreditation and am a UK-SBA Director to the Board. Here is a snapshot of 2 days of my working week

Adele Norman BCBA

Day 1:

7.30am I’m attempting to keep some semblance of normality during these unprecedented times due to Covid-19, so I am setting an alarm each work morning to remain in a routine as best I can. This said, I have developed a terribly bad habit of switching on my phones (I have 4!!) and checking and marking my emails I need to respond to before even getting out of bed. Mmm…. I think this may need an intervention when things get back to normal! I’m in and out the shower by 8.30. Again, as part of ‘maintaining routine’ I still have ‘work’ and ‘normal’ clothes. I’m finding this a really helpful strategy in preparing for a work day actually.

9.00am I get my regular Monday to Friday morning call from Emma. She is one of the ladies on my caseload. She calls every morning by 9.15am to say good morning, tell me what she is cross about and that I should have a nice day and she will call tomorrow. I can’t always answer depending on my schedule but never ignore her if I’m free. She’s cross today because she thinks one of her fish is sick. I say that the staff with her will be happy to help her with the fish. Then I’ve ‘to have good day Adele, bye!’ First job of the morning is to set up some new computer equipment I’ve had delivered. I’ve needed to become reasonably tech savvy due to the current situation which is an unexpected positive consequence!

10.00 Next, I’m updating a report and assessment ready for annual review. The learner has made astounding progress so I really enjoy this one. Even the Vineland scores are looking extremely positive

10.30am I’ve a quick virtual meeting with a service manager to discuss a referral contract moving forward. This is great news for the region and it’s looking like we may have the go ahead for recruiting more Positive Behaviour Support Practitioners. I am excited about the positive impact we could have on these referrals

11.00am I have a meeting this afternoon as part the UK SBA Board so I check the necessary actions and paperwork needed. I’m then heading downstairs for lunch. I’m a little rubbish at eating properly and at the right times. Another intervention maybe……..

1.30pm We have our UK SBA Directors meeting. It’s a very busy time for the board and lots of actions for all the committees! Very glad I have an effective use a list system for my tasks I need to complete. To say I’m feeling more tech savvy, I do prefer pen and paper on this one. There’s something very satisfying about ticking things off!

3.30pm Next, I’m updating incident frequency data and self-injurious behaviour data for one of my cases. The self-injurious behaviour is down to 0. The team have worked so hard implementing strategies and it really shows. Of course I email the pretty graphs to the service as soon as complete so they can see this success.

4.30pm Then, I have a supervision meeting with one of my BCBA supervisees. We discuss the motivating operations affecting the families of the people we work with and how this can often lead to difficulties in providing a service. We focus on how we can look at providing effective support, how we can fit this in to polices & procedures of an organisation and how sometimes, policies and procedures can in fact reinforce unwanted behaviour. A really good discussion.

6.00pm An evening walk with my 2 pooches after I’ve shut down my computer. I have 2 border collies which keep me reasonably active and entertained. I think pets are good for the soul – which is not very behavioural is it?


7.30pm – There has been some restructuring in one of my current employments meaning a lot of the team (including me!) will be moving on so I’m ordering leaving gifts for particular member’s of the team. It’s sad to think that this fantastic team I’ve worked with will be moving on, but I do feel privileged to have worked with such an amazing bunch of people. The knowledge I have gained from them is just incredible. I doubt we will lose touch completely.

I then have some tea. I live in the North so it’s tea here! It’s late-ish now for a meal so I’m told 8.30pm – I eat at rubbish times apparently! A little bit of mind emptying television and bed about 10.30

7.30am – It’s alarm and email flagging again – I will stop…. Shower and ‘work’ clothes.

Day 2:

8.30am I have an EHCP annual review meeting this morning so I read through my report beforehand. It’s really important you know your reports back to front so it’s good to double check these things in case of questions. The meeting will be virtual given the current situation but I am getting used to this now.

9.00am – Annual review. The meeting is a positive one. The new school is supportive of an ABA program and open to receiving support for our learner. A good outcome thus far. Unfortunately, this means I miss my call from Emma.

10.30 – a meeting with a recruitment team to talk me through my role in the recruitment process and what they need from me to proceed. Added to the list. I then have a look through an example Action Plan for setting up a new service. This is extremely helpful in working out what is needed from me in terms of positive behaviour support.

12.00pm – lunch! I also use this time to respond to some emails and messages that have come through. One of them from a student who is interested in becoming an ABA tutor. This is fantastic and they are interested in training up. I direct them to our website that has information on getting started and they send me their CV which they are happy for me to forward to families.

1.00pm – I’m now running some online Positive Behaviour Support Training for some new support staff that have started with my employer. I have to admit, I’m not keen on running training this way. I miss the direct interaction and rapport and I miss being able to ‘read’ people and tailor the training as I usually would. That said, feedback is good and they demonstrate a good understanding of the key principles

4.00pm – Part of the requirements of BCBA supervision is that I observe my supervisee at least twice a month. This can be recorded and so I watch a video one of my supervisees has submitted. On this, they are teaching brushing teeth using a task analysis. A good skill to teach! They also included a video of them practising the steps of tooth brushing to be able to write the task analysis which is sometime a key step that is forgotten!

5.00pm – A video consultation for one of my early intervention programs. Again, I find this a difficult way of working for me as I’m so used to demonstrating new programs and directly teaching tutors but we are adapting well. I keep a range of materials in my office in case I need to demonstrate any new skills or programs, and I’ve invested in a separate USB camera so I can move the position of this a lot more easily to show what I’m doing.

7.15pm – an evening walk with the collies again. It’s good to empty my head yet think about my day.

8.30pm – late eating again…. I then read a little more of the book I’ve started ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. It has a behaviour analysis perspective, but without the author being a behaviour analyst. I’m liking the real world application of behavioural strategies and has even inspired me to since watch ‘Road to Glory’ series detailing the success of the British Cycling Team in recent years. I don’t even like cycling?!!!

10.30pm and I’m in bed again, no doubt checking my emails in the morning from exactly the same place… really should work on that….

Thanks Adele! That was really insightful, thanks for sharing your day with us! If you want to learn more about Adele’s consultancy company; HD ABA Consultancy, you can check out the website . Alternatively if you want to learn more about the UK-SBA and how to be a member, you can visit their website too

If you want to know more about Positive Behaviour Support, you can look at the interview I did in the March 2019 edition.

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